Itanium architecture to target e-business applications

Itanium architecture to target e-business applications

Intel's new 64-bit architecture chipset Itanium will not ship locally until Q2 next year.

Intel Asia-Pacific's IA64 program manager, William Wu, said the new architecture will be rolled out gradually over the next three quarters, with servers powered by the new chips being launched by the first half of 2001.

This week Intel will begin with an IA64 intensive "boot camp" for software developers to educate the industry on porting applications or writing new code for the architecture.

"There will be no launch per se," Wu said. "Rather, there will be a series of rollouts.

"At this stage we are only in the pilot phase. The applications that will make the most of this architecture will be from the back end down. Front-end systems will eventually make use of it, but that is a very components-based environment. For now, the focus area is in databases and some application servers and workstations which will benefit from the floating point architecture."

The chipset will be initially shipped with 733MHz or 800MHz processors which will feature a 2GBps multi-drop system bus which Intel claims will free up I/O - often the limiting factor in the performance of a processor.

The Itanium will also overcome another infamous bottleneck in today's systems, memory latency, by pre-loading instructions into the main memory. While current 32-bit architecture deals with instructions sequentially, the 64-bit system uses a compiler to execute multiple paths simultaneously.

"For this we needed new architecture because of the resources involved," Wu said.

IA64 hardware can run 32-bit software applications in native mode, but users who do this will not be able to exploit the advantages of the new architecture.

According to Intel, the processor will be particularly useful for scientific analysis and 3D graphics but will really find its market in the back-end enterprise space.

"Five to 10 years ago, the Internet was very much vendor-centric. Today that is changing. There is lots of personalisation. In the future, users will choose what they want to see. The IA-64 architecture will integrate tightly with that business model.

"The Itanium will have immediate benefits to e-business applications," Wu said.

Unlike its PC counterparts, the Itanium processors will use SDRAM technology rather than RDRAM mainly due to price constraints, according to Wu.

Intel hopes the chip will take on the likes of Sun, claiming the IA64 will perform significantly better than current reduced instruction set computer (RISC) offerings.

Microsoft has already released its 64-bit beta version of Windows 2000 and has also received commitments from the likes of Compaq, HP, Acer and IBM.

Intel has already shipped more than 5000 prototypes of the architecture worldwide. The company was keen to emphasise it will continue to support its 32-bit architecture.

"In the future, 32 and 64 will coexist; 64-bit architecture will not replace 32, it will depend on the application. IA32 will continue to grow."

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